Reserves: Eikrem and Brady Impress In 5-1 Victory

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Manchester United reserves progressed to the next round of the Lancashire Senior Cup thanks to a comfortable 5-1 victory over Bury at Gigg Lane on Monday evening.

United started on the front foot with Mangus Eikrem pulling the strings (spraying passes akin to Paul Scholes) and the Dublin born Robbie Brady heavily involved. For much of the first half Bury were intent on defending deep and playing on the counter attack, stifling any attacks United could muster. Brady created an early opportunity for himself after brushing aside two Bury players, but flashed his shot across the face of goal. Moments later Ravel Morrison brought a good save from goalkeeper Richie Branagan when he gathered the ball after sloppy play from Bury’s defence – he drove into the penalty area and fired off. Unfortunately in his efforts, Morrison sustained an injury and was later on replaced by Michael Keane. The injury did not look overly serious, but is a slight worry considering his injury record to date.

On 27 minutes United’s early pressure finally paid off when Brady converted a free kick from just outside the penalty area, after a foul on Cameron Stewart (Stewart returns on loan to Yeovil next week) . Brady and Eikrem were both in contention for the free kick, but the angle favoured the left foot of the Irish man. His effort bounced at an awkward height for Branagan, who got a hand to the ball but was unable to prevent Brady’s shot from trickling over the line. On 35 minutes, Brady scored his second to make the score line 2-0. The ever attacking Marnick Vermijl (signed in the summer from Standard Liege) earned a corner on the right hand side – Eikrem whipped in a low cross (from corner) to Scott Wootton, his shot was blocked by forward Danny Carlton, but the rebound fell to Brady eight yards out leaving him to simply toe poke the ball into the back of the net.

Somewhat against the run of play, Bury clawed their way back into the game with a goal from the experienced Carlton. On the half way line a disastrous pass by Reece Brown was intercepted by Kyle Bennett. The speedy Bennett brought the ball forward to the edge of United’s penalty area, with two team mates in support he slipped a simple pass to the right where Carlton fired past Sam Johnstone. Regardless of the setback United continued to push forward – Nicky Ajose (playing as a central striker) and Keane had chances to add to the score line before half time.

The second half was a much more enjoyable fare with Bury prepared to throw men forward and attack – with Bennett heavily involved. Within a minute of the resumption the former England U18 International had an effort deflected marginally wide and moments later has a further opportunity after a poor clearance from Brown. Bury’s early dominance was in vein as United grabbed their first goal of the second half (60th minute) thanks to a debut goal from Vermijl. An over hit pass from Brady should have been an easy collect for Branagan – he unfortunately spilled the ball allowing Vermijl to slot home into an empty net. I was impressed with Vermijl on my first viewing – he is very attacking full back often finding himself in advanced positions. With the score line 3-1, United made their final two substitutes – Ryan Tunnicliffe on for Corry Evans and John Cofie replacing Vermijl. The changes allowed Keane (after playing in central midfield) and Ajose switch to their accustomed right back and right wing roles respectively.

On 75 minutes Cofie scored his second reserve goal of the season. After a patient build up Eikrem fed Ajose with an incisive through ball, he in turn cut back a pass for Cofie who finished smartly – a classy goal. If Cofie doesn’t make the grade as a footballer then the rest may as well give up – he is going to be some player. The young player I have been impressed by the most this season. If I thought Cofie’s goal was classy then Tunnicliffe’s was even better. He picked up possession midway in Bury’s half, played a one two with the influential Eikrem – he then used his power and pace to reach the ball before the Bury defence and finished with a nice little chip. He kissed the United badge during his celebration – delighted to have scored. He is another who has impressed. A good cameo against Bury – always looking for ball, making himself available for a pass and wasn’t afraid to let his feelings known to team mates if he wasn’t happy with something. He is very much in the mould of Roy Keane. The return pass from Eikrem was very clever – he ensured the pass had enough back spin so the ball bounced back to Tunnicliffe.

The result is perhaps a tad harsh on Bury; however Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be pleased with the result after a poor performance from his team in their previous game against Aston Villa. The reserves will now face Oldham Athletic in the next round.

Standout players: Eikrem, Brady and Johnstone. Johnstone he seems a very good shot stopper – he made two cracking saves from Bennett.

Starting XI: Johnstone; Vermijl, Brown (R), Wootton, Fryers; Evans, Morrison, Eikrem, Brady; Stewart, Ajose.

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